This meal - which I am pleased to say I made up as I went - is hearty, delicious, inexpensive, convenient, and great for leftovers.
Beans and Rice with Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, and Green Bell Pepper
1 cup Carolina rice (though you can use whatever rice you like)
1 TBS butter
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 yellow onion, minced
4-6 stalks celery, minced (leaves included)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small green bell pepper(s), diced
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, dried oregano, paprika, cumin, cayenne
2 Roma tomatoes, diced (could sub 1/2 14.5 oz can of diced tomato, drained)
1 14.5 oz can kidney beans (almost any bean will do), rinsed and drained
1 large link fully-cooked Andouille sausage, diced (if frozen, defrost in microwave)
2 cups chicken stock
1 TBS cornstarch
1 dozen small shrimp, shelled and cleaned (if frozen, defrost in a bowl of cool water)
1 handful parsley, stems removed, minced
1 lemon, 1/2 for juice, 1/2 cut into wedges for serving
Extra butter, if desired
Hot sauce, for serving
Boil two cups of water with 1 TBS butter and 1 tsp salt. Add 1 cup of Carolina rice and 1 bay leaf. Stir, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Shut off the heat and leave the lid on until ready to serve. If using a different type of rice, just follow the directions on the package, and if making brown rice, be sure to start it far enough in advance (it usually takes 40-50 minutes total).
Heat 1 TBS oil and 1 TBS butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, and bell pepper and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices (feel free to experiment here) and stir. Add tomato, kidney beans, and sausage and stir, cooking for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Dissolve 1 TBS cornstarch in 2 cups of chicken stock in a glass measuring cup and pour into sauté pan. Bring to a bubble, raising heat if necessary. Add shrimp and nestle into sauce, cooking until pink and curled, 3-4 minutes.
Squeeze half a lemon over the pan and stir in the minced parsley and extra butter, if desired (it's worth it). Turn off the heat and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.
Uncover the rice and fluff it with a fork. Add it to a bowl and smother with the beans and rice. Enjoy!